Rhialto the Marvellous takes up the personal and political conflicts among a conclave of two dozen magicians of Ascolais and Almery in the 21st Aeon. The shocking appearance of the Llorio the Murtha, a powerful female force from an earlier aeon threatens to unbalance nature by “ensqualming” or feminizing the magicians. This triggers a tremendous struggle for power and the other mages turn against Rhialto.
Hoping to reestablish his rightful place, Rhialto travels to other aeons to restore the missing Perciplex which projects the Mostrament, the constitution of the association. In his final adventure, Rhialto must, ultimately, travel to the very ends of time and space to confront an old adversary whom he had wronged and must commit further misdeeds to restore order.
Out of this welter of exotic politics, values systems, personal eccentricity, and magic, the figure of Rhialto slowly comes into focus and takes on dimension. He is a vain, apparently superficial man, not ashamed to demonstrate his melancholy to enhance his reputation. But he is courteous, patient, and subtle, even kind. He is self-aware and introspective as Cugel never could be—the wisest and most sympathetic of all of Vance’s wizards.
The stories included in The Dying Earth introduce dozens of seekers of wisdom and beauty, lovely lost women, wizards of every shade of eccentricity with their runic amulets and spells. We meet the melancholy deodands, who feed on human flesh and the twk-men, who ride dragonflies and trade information for salt. There are monsters and demons. Each... Read more »
The Eyes of the Overworld is the first of Vance’s picaresque novels about the scoundrel Cugel. Here he is sent by a magician he has wronged to a distant unknown country to retrieve magical lenses that reveal the Overworld. Conniving to steal the lenses, he escapes and, goaded by a homesick monster magically attached to his liver, starts to find... Read more »
"Vance sees himself in the tradition of popular fantasy writers, but his classic writing style is also comparagle to Homer’s Odyssey, and Cervante's Don Quixote. Though the Cugel tales may lack the scope and pathos of the greatest adventure yarns, in the twenty-first century, they may be as close as one gets to the celebration of epic human... Read more »
Rhialto the Marvellous takes up the personal and political conflicts among a conclave of two dozen magicians of Ascolais and Almery in the 21st Aeon. The shocking appearance of the Llorio the Murtha, a powerful female force from an earlier aeon threatens to unbalance nature by “ensqualming” or feminizing the magicians. This triggers a... Read more »